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  • Nicky Badenoch, Co-founder, Genie: Optimise Or Die

    Nicky Badenoch, Co-founder, Genie: Optimise Or Die.

    The future is freelance. Of course it’s not entirely true. But it does point to a shift in agencies’ needs for talent. Great talent is not always interested in being on-staff. This is increasingly true. Genie co-founder, Nicky Badenoch has some wise words to say about that.

    There was some big news in our industry in the last couple of weeks that could be one of those moments that we look back on and really see a shift in how our industry operates.

    If you haven’t seen the coverage, it was a bold move by R/GA to flip the freelance model and react to how the world is really working with each other today and even more so in the future.

    They introduced a new system for their company called The Associates, which they neatly capture as being 100% RGAer but Not 100% of the time. This is a commitment to a project based relationship model where talent are guaranteed a minimum of 20 total weeks – or comparative hours – over 12 months, with the use of office space at an R/GA location, access to L&D programs, connection to all technology and equipment, and being eligible for the same type of benefits of someone who is full-time.

    So why do we at Genie think this is a big deal? And you might ask why did I start the article with a melodramatic title like Optimise or Die?

    The answer is short. We think this is the future of talent within the creative industry and if you don’t do something similar you risk becoming extinct.

    As a company whose heritage has been built on sourcing the right talent for the right project at the right time we have had a front row seat for how the industry has been evolving. And as per what R/GA said in their launch release, we too see a rapid evolution happening which is why you need to evolve before dying.

    What do we see? We see some incredible shifts in our industry and beyond. The latest stats in the US show that by 2027 more than half of the US workforce will be freelance, 76% of Gen-Z want to work for themselves, and closer to home our industry has seen more project based relationships grow in the last 2 years than the previous 5 years, and the rapid evolution of technology means the skills needed for client briefs is ever-changing on a YoY basis.

    We also see other agencies trying to flip their models to cope in this new world in different ways too. Huge recently recalibrated its agency model in a different way restructuring its company around Client Pods and not departments in an effort to make sure talent could be in the right place at the right moment, something that Saatchi did here a year or so ago with the introduction of its Squad System.

    What all this means, and for us included as we recalibrate our model, is that the old way of operating is dying, and we need a new way of being fueled by optimising talent to maximise company growth.

    We don’t claim to have all the answers but here are two things we have done ourselves and what we see from the sidelines of your industry that might be helpful as you ponder this moment.

    First, be energised by this moment and see it as an opportunity to look hard at what you do to find new ways to maximise your business.

    We did that. We built our business on creating a platform that gives instant access to the best black book of talent possible and to match that with your needs.

    We still see incredible value in that but we have evolved our platform to now optimise talent both inside and outside an agency structure. We have created AI powered matching technology that allows companies to ensure both internal and external resources are not only fully utilised but matched to the right brief for their skills at the right time to drive quicker and more effective output. Much like Huge will be doing with its new resourcing structure and like R/GA will be doing with its utilisation of talent and time, we think the only solution now in a pressured margin world is to connect the right talent to the right brief from either inside or outside of your organisation with a precision, speed and freedom like never before.

    Second, forget about how you “operate” as a business and think about how you “optimise” as a business.

    In the old world of retainers an agency’s structure was set and the real job was how to efficiently move and operate within that confirmed and confined structure. In a project driven economy that stability and old systems planning is redundant.

    As can be seen by the agency moves we have referenced the only job to succeed with now is one of “optimisation”. This requires a tech driven system based approach to create a new type of talent structure, with supporting technology like Genie, to be as fluid, proactive and reactive in real time to changing briefs and challenges from clients and the market.

    Time will only tell if our enthusiasm for the R/GA move and its effect on the industry will be key but in the short term their and others experimentation and modernisation should be applauded and learned from.

    Cover image by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

    This article was originally published in The Stable.